Qu117 - A pemmican puzzle
When I was about seventeen, my brother became interested in nutrition. He had a theory that a diet consisting of only brown rice and butter had sufficient nutritional content to keep a person well nourished for months. A devotee of the the scientific method, he stuck to this diet for an entire summer. So far as we could tell he suffered no ill effects.
The real experts on the most calorific foods were the early polar explorers. During the Acrtic and Antarctic expeditions of the early 1900s, the staple of explorers was pemmican, a pounded mixture of dried meat, fat, berries, that is extremely rich in both protein and energy. They even fed it to their sled dogs, which in turn became a mobile food store that was similarly rationed. Rear Admiral Robert Peary, a pioneering American explorer who is though by some to have been the first person to reach the North Pole, wrote in his 1917 book Secrets of Polar Travel
Too much cannot be said of the importance of pemmican to a polar expedition... Without it a sledge-party cannot compact its supplies within a limit of weight to make a serious polar journey successful... With pemmican, the most serious sledge-journey can be undertaken and carried to a successful issue in the absence of all other foods. Of all foods that I am acquainted with, pemmican is the only one that, under appropriate conditions, a man can eat twice a day for three hundred and sixty-five days in a year and have the last mouthful taste as good as the first.
As an avid reader of accounts of polar exploration myself, I think it is probably true that Peary was almost alone in finding pemmican delicious. Most people seem to be revolted by its flavour. Peary was so enthustiastic about this magical foodstuff that he even imposed it on his sled dogs, writing
Pemmican is the only food for dogs on a serious polar sledge journey.
On his last expedition he packed 30,000 pounds of tinned pemmican. I’m glad I wasn’t travelling with his party.
A party of explorers has two remaining tins of pemmican. One stands three inches high and has a mass of 1 lb. The second stands 9 inches high, and has a mass of 25 lb. The tins are exactly the same shape, and are manufactured from the same sheet of tin. What is the total mass of pemmican in the tins?